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Was The Holy Spirit Not On Earth Before Pentecost?

May 24, 2015 | Jared C. Wilson

Jean_II_Restout_-_PentecôteDid the Spirit not prowl the earth, seeking whom he may save before his coming at Pentecost? Is God’s Spirit not omnipresent? How did people love and obey God before Pentecost if we believe, as Jesus said, he would be sent after the Lord’s ascension?

John Piper explains with a neat illustration:

Now let me suggest an analogy to illustrate the experience of the Spirit before and after Pentecost. Picture a huge dam for hydroelectric power under construction, like the Aswan High Dam on the Nile, 375 feet high and 11,000 feet across. Egypt’s President Nasser announced the plan for construction in 1953. The dam was completed in 1970 and in 1971 there was a grand dedication ceremony and the 12 turbines with their ten billion kilowatt-hour capacity were unleashed with enough power to light every city in Egypt. During the long period of construction the Nile River wasn’t completely stopped. Even as the reservoir was filling, part of the river was allowed to flow past. The country folk downstream depended on it. They drank it, they washed in it, it watered their crops and turned their mill-wheels. They sailed on it in the moonlight and wrote songs about it. It was their life. But on the day when the reservoir poured through the turbines a power was unleashed that spread far beyond the few folk down river and brought possibilities they had only dreamed of.

Well, Pentecost is like the dedicatory opening of the Aswan High Dam. Before Pentecost the river of God’s Spirit blessed the people of Israel and was their very life. But after Pentecost the power of the Spirit spread out to light the whole world. None of the benefits enjoyed in the pre-Pentecostal days were taken away. But ten billion kilowatts were added to enable the church to take the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ to every tongue and tribe and nation.

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For The Church at SBC

May 19, 2015 | Jared C. Wilson

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If you are attending the Southern Baptist Convention next month in Columbus, Ohio, I’d like to invite you to join me, Mark Dever, Matt Carter, Jason Allen, Ronnie Floyd, and Paige Patterson for our For The Church conference luncheon on June 16 at 11:45 a.m.

Each of us will be giving a short “TED talk”-like address on a particular topic, and we’ll also be giving away to all attendees Dever’s epic new work with Jonathan Leeman on Baptist foundations.

Just $10 if you register early.
Hope to see you there!

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It Is God Who Justifies

May 18, 2015 | Jared C. Wilson

5005665898_1cd56f72ee_oIt is God who justifies. — Romans 8:33

“Behold the eternal security of the weakest believer in Jesus. The act of justification, once passed under the great seal of the resurrection of Christ, God can never revoke without denying Himself. Here is our safety. Here is the ground of our dauntless challenge, ‘Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God who justifies.’ What can I need more? What more can I ask?

“If God, the God of spotless purity, the God of inflexible righteousness, justifies me, ‘who is he that condemns?’ Sin may condemn, but it is God that justifies! The law may alarm, but it is God that justifies! Satan may accuse, but it is God that justifies! Death may terrify, but it is God that justifies! ‘If GOD is for us, who can be against us?’ Who will dare condemn the soul whom He justifies?

“How gloriously will this truth shine forth in the great day of judgment! Every accuser will then be dumb. Every tongue will then be silent. Nothing shall be laid to the charge of God’s elect. GOD Himself shall pronounce them fully, and forever justified: ‘And those He justifies, He also glorifies.'”

– Octavius Winslow, Morning Thoughts (February 1)

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An Open Letter to Tom Brady

May 07, 2015 | Jared C. Wilson

FullSizeRenderDear Tom,

Bro. Seriously. I love you, bro. And I take a lot of heat for it. I mean, like, an excessive amount of heat for it. But I don’t care. I am probably the only pastor outside of Boston to have a study full of Brady memorabilia. I love you like Gisele loves nature conservation. You must be protected, because you are an extremely valuable natural resource, the removal of which would upset the delicate balance of the ecosystem of awesomeness in the universe.

I’m writing this not as a BradyHater™, but as a full-on fanboy. You are my favorite sportsman ever — in any game, from any era. And I’ll tell you why. Your exceptional talent on the field is only matched by your exceptional work ethic. I love the way you command your teammates’ respect. And one thing I’ve always respected about you, up until now, is the leadership you’ve shown at the podiums and in front of the press. Unlike a lot of athletes of your stature, when things haven’t gone well on the field, you take responsibility. You don’t shift the blame to anybody else. And when you succeed, as you often do, you share the credit. This kind of leadership maturity is as rare as your talent.

So here’s the deal: I think you ought to do the right thing here and own up to wanting those footballs under-inflated, pressuring your equipment guys to handle that for you, and now insisting that you don’t know what anybody’s talking about. I think what you lose by doing that is much less than what you lose by not. And in any event, whatever is gained or lost, it’s just the right thing to do.

You and I both know that won’t win you any new fans. Your loyal opposition will always oppose you. But your fans will forgive you. Heck, I already do. I promise you — I already do forgive you. But I couldn’t root for you the same way, couldn’t talk you up to my grandkids like I planned to, couldn’t celebrate your championships as I have before, if you don’t do what real men do, which is take responsibility.

Tom, your reputation among many probably cannot be repaired, no matter what you do. I hate that for you. That’s just life, I guess. But I don’t believe “Deflategate” will tarnish your legacy in the eyes of fans like me if you’ll be brave enough to just get transparent with us. Confession of this kind won’t be the worst thing that happens to you in life, even though I’m sure it might feel that way at the moment.

But all the protection, all the spin, all the image management — it’s just making the situation worse. I know that once those footballs were restored to acceptable psi, your torching of the Colts only intensified. I know you beat the Seahawks in the big game fair and square. I know the pressure of those pigskins cannot account for the amazing things you’ve accomplished on the field over your long career, and perhaps have left to accomplish. But the longer you let this go on without owning up, the worse it’s going to get. It won’t go away. It will always haunt you.

So come into the light. We won’t hold it against you. And once you’re out here in the honest clear, I think you’ll find that huge weight off your shoulders, and I think you may see that trying to protect something you can’t keep anyway is a losing game.

I’m a big fat stinking sinner, so I can’t throw stones at you. I’ve done much worse than game the system to gain an advantage. But when I realized trying to protect my image was an ultimately devastating strategy, I embraced the forgiveness I’ve found in God, who through Jesus Christ forgave all my sin (1 John 1:9) and — get this — doesn’t even remember it any more (Isaiah 43:25). There’s real freedom in that light.

So anyways, just some thoughts. Love ya, bro.

Signed: Your biggest fan,

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This Is My Manifesto

May 05, 2015 | Jared C. Wilson

The Prodigal Church: A Gentle Manifesto against the Status Quo from Crossway on Vimeo.

The Prodigal Church: A Gentle Manifesto Against the Status Quo is my newest book and the culmination of my thoughts on and practice of ministry over the last twenty years. It is also my most vulnerable book, and the only place where I tell my story of gospel wakefulness in fullest detail.

There are lots of rants out there against the so-called “attractional church.” I know I have engaged in my fair share. But I think the stakes are too high to simply preach to the Amen corner in the “young, restless, and Reformed” movement. My hope for this book is that it may challenge the status quo outside my own tribe, or at the very least, help men and women in the kinds of churches addressed in the book think through and even articulate some of their internal concerns and questions.

We have a great God who loves his church dearly. We have nothing to fear — any of us — in questioning our own assumptions about ministry and holding them up to the light of Scripture. But I also feature in the book research on the last three decades of the modern church movement’s effectiveness.

In The Prodigal Church, I simply want to thoughtfully and gently help brothers and sisters evaluate the way they do church. Because you don’t have to be a legalistic, traditionalist church to be stuck in the mindset of “this is the way we’ve always done it.”

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The One Source of Total Salvation

May 05, 2015 | Jared C. Wilson

Natural_springs1From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.
— John 1:16

There is no end to the cascading blessings of grace flowing from our Savior Jesus Christ.

The finished work of Christ is that beautiful spring from which flows our forgiveness from sins, our justification before God, our receipt of Christ’s righteousness, our adoption as sons, our reconciliation with the Father, our reconciliation with our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ, our sure sanctification, our grounds for the Spirit’s fruit, our position as a royal priesthood, our serving as Christ’s ambassadors in the advancing kingdom of God, our resurrection from the dead, our eternal reward, our enjoyment of the new heavens and the new earth, and our participatory witnesses of God’s restoration of all things.

The gospel of first importance produces a myriad of blessings I suppose that were every one of them to be written the world itself could not contain the books. Grand thing, then, that God is remaking the world to broadcast them best.

The large tree of salvation, with branches enough for bird of every kind and from every place, grows from the mighty mustard seed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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No Little Disturbances!

May 01, 2015 | Jared C. Wilson

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About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. — Acts 19:23

These men who have turned the world upside down . . . — Acts 17:6

We desperately need to change the subject in our cities. The Church has become wallpaper in too many of them. We recede into the background, staying indoors, safe and avoidable in our religious cubbyhole.

The Ephesian idolmakers rioted because they were put out of business, not by Christians protesting their industry in the parking lot, but by the pervasive spread of the gospel in the city.

We are not responsible for fruit. We are responsible for faithfulness.

God, no little disturbances, please. Please send big ones. Come down, disrupt, break things. Make us dust to breathe new life into us again. So that the Way may create no little disturbance for your glory again.

Help us to want what your servant Spurgeon calls “a glorious disorder.” Make us want to be bowled over. Cultivate astonishment in us.

Teach us how to and empower us to change the subject.

Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you. — Titus 2:15

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Only Christ Counts for Anything

Apr 30, 2015 | Jared C. Wilson

ledger72“. . . neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything . . .” – Galatians 5:6

Most people assume there are really two categories: good people and bad people. There are people who are trying and people who aren’t. Most religions, including some identifying as Christian, operate according to these two categories. There are religious people and irreligious people.

There’s a local cult group in Rutland, Vermont called the Twelve Tribes that teaches that in the afterlife, bad people go to hell, people in the Twelve Tribes go to heaven with Jesus, and good people who don’t know Jesus occupy a renewed earth. (It’s somewhat like the Jehovah’s Witnesses that way.) They want to accommodate the two categories in their creation of three categories, because they know “good people” and “bad people” are the categories that “work.”

But the Bible puts a red x on this categorization. All people are born condemned. We all know apathetic licentiousness won’t rectify that. But the Scriptures tell us being good won’t either. Good works don’t get us in any more than doing “whatever” will. There is only one category for us.

We don’t need a “good people” category. We need a whole new category. Christ supercedes our plausibility. The gospel is the other category, because only Christ counts for anything.

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If We Are Lost, It is God’s Loss

Apr 30, 2015 | Jared C. Wilson

“A young minister, wsickbedhile visiting the cabin of a veteran Scotch woman who had grown ripe in experience, said to her, ‘Nannie, what if, after all your prayers and watching and waiting, God should allow your soul to be eternally lost?’

“Looking at the youthful novice in divinity, she replied, ‘Ah, let me tell you, that God would have the greatest loss. Poor me would lose her soul, and that would be a great loss; but God would lose his honor and his character. If he broke his word, he would make himself a liar, and the universe would go to ruin.’

“The veteran believer was right. Our only real ground of salvation lies in God’s everlasting word.”

– Theodore Cuyler, “Wayside Springs”

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“I Couldn’t Worship a God Like That”

Apr 29, 2015 | Jared C. Wilson

117048243_7cc6bb0b87“The ancient man approached God (or even the gods) as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man the roles are reversed. He is the judge: God is in the dock. He is quite a kindly judge: if God should have a reasonable defence for being the god who permits war, poverty and disease, he is ready to listen to it.”
– C.S. Lewis, “God in the Dock”

“I could not worship a God like that.”

It is one of God’s eternal blessings that he is a good God, a loving God, a merciful God, a beautiful God. And we ought to worship him for these attributes and more. But we also ought to worship him because he is God, and we are not.

This imperative is no time more crucial than when God reveals himself in ways inscrutable and uncomfortable, when God is being seeker-insensitive.

When God is like that, we are inclined to put him in the hot seat. To say things like “I couldn’t worship a God who allowed this” or “I couldn’t love a God who did that” is in essence to say, “I will worship the God that meets my demands.” But God doesn’t fill out job applications. You can try to, as C.S. Lewis says, put “God in the Dock,” but he neither belongs nor fits there. He does not have to justify himself to us. It is a boon that he reveals himself to us.

God will meet our needs, and while he may answer our cries, he will not answer our demands. Because he is God.

And the LORD said to Job: “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.” – Job 40:1-2

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